May 12th is Mother's Day in the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and upwards of 70 other countries. But not in the UK where Mother's Day happened almost two months ago in early March - catching me off guard, as it has in many previous years. I've lived in the USA for twenty years but grew up in England, where my parents still live and, despite my best intentions, more years than I'm willing to admit I'm wrong footed by Mother's Day - not least because "Mothering Sunday", as it is traditionally known, is a movable feast, celebrated on the 4th Sunday of Lent, which can be anytime from early March to early April.
You'll find more about the history of Mother's Day in the USA and Mothering Sunday in Britain below, but first whether you're a mother, have a mother, or are just on the hunt for your next great read, here are a few book suggestions to inspire:
Chechnya has been much in the news this past week due to the two alleged Boston bombers being ethnic Chechens. On the assumption that many of us will be a little rusty with the goings on of this small country in the Caucuses, below is BookBrowse's "beyond the book" article written for Masha Gessen's The Man Without A Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin (2012).
Though it seems that the Tsarnaev brothers had not lived in Chechnya, although the older brother is thought to have visited last year, an understanding of the history of Chechnya is relevant as it explains why hundreds of thousands of ethnic Chechens currently live in countries such as Kyrgyzstan and Dagestan, as did the Tsarnaev family before coming to the USA.
Metafiction is an elastic concept covering a wide range of fiction but in essence boils down to stories in which the book blurs the line between reality and fiction by drawing attention to itself in some shape or form. To boil it down even further, you could say that it is fiction about fiction.
William H. Gass is attributed with establishing the term metafiction in a 1970 essay titled "Philosophy and the Form of Fiction". Commenting on American fiction of the 1960s, he pointed out that a new description was needed for the emerging genre of experimental texts that openly broke with the tradition of literary realism still dominant in post-WWII American literature.